When you hear the word “doppelganger” for the first time, you might think it’s a delicious German pastry, or perhaps part of a weather channel’s radar. But you’d be wrong. The term doppelganger is German for doppel- meaning double, and ganger – meaning goer. A double goer – or, a second self. Some people refer to doppelgangers as non-related twins, someone who looks just like you. But, in the Freaky Friday kind of world, a doppelganger is a ghostly double who haunts your home.
I recently heard a story about a doppelganger when I was listening to an Astonishing Legends podcast. They were having their “Arcapalooza” show, which is a podcast that features all of the folks who do their research for them. One of the researchers, Lauren, grew up in central Kentucky, the Lexington area, and lived in a small home with her parents and two sisters. The first encounter she recalled was one day when she was a child her father walked through the back door of the house and called out that he was home. She vividly remembers that she was with her mother in the living room and her mother turned to her, her face pale and white, and said, “Don’t go down there. That’s not your father, he’s still at least a county away.” Sure enough, her father actually got home about thirty minutes later.
But, Lauren’s story continued with an event that had to do with her family and especially her younger sister. She remembers when she was about thirteen years old she was inside her house and the rest of the family was out on the front porch enjoying the beautiful day. Her younger sister has vibrant red hair and her personality is lively and fun. The sisters would often speak to each other in a teasing voice that they called the “bubbee” voice. But that silly voice was something they only did with each other. That day, Lauren remembers her sister calling to her from the kitchen and asking her to play catch. She used the bubbee voice and taunted Lauren, so Lauren jumped up and chased her sister, laughing all the while. When Lauren followed her sister to the back of the house, she suddenly realized that her sister was gone. The back of the house was very dark, had no doors and the windows were too high off the ground for her seven-year-old sister to climb out. Suddenly, she felt chilled to the bone and frightened. She ran back to the front of the house, only to see her younger sister walk past the window on the front porch. Two things stood out to her. One, there was no way her sister could have made it from the back of the house to the front porch in that amount of time. Two, her sister was now sporting bangs. She had forgotten that their mother had cut her sister’s hair two days earlier. The entity she had just chased from the kitchen was still wearing her sister’s old hairstyle.
I’ve got chills, how about you?
About a week later a similar experience happened between the middle sister and something masquerading as the younger sister. This time the entity stood in a shadowy corner of the kitchen and spoke with the other sister, suggesting they go outside. Then the middle sister noticed that her younger sister’s hair was wrong, and she ran out of the kitchen.
According to the website Listverse, doppelganger are often harbingers of bad news and a surprising number of significant historical figures have claimed to be haunted by them. Here are a few from their website:
“Catherine the Great, the powerful 18th-century Empress of Russia, was a powerful and dangerous figure. She was not fazed by small matters, such as seeing her own ghostly doppelganger take over her throne.
It is said that one night, Catherine was lying in her bed when worried servants told her they’d just seen her enter the throne room. When Catherine set out to investigate, she found her doppelganger sitting calmly on the throne. Catherine immediately ordered her sentries to shoot at her ghostly counterpart.
The stories don’t tell whether the bullet had any effect on the spectral Empress. However, Catherine herself died soon afterwards…”
“Percy Bysshe Shelley was a brilliant poet in his own right, although he is mainly remembered as the husband of Mary Shelley (the author of Frankenstein). Although one would assume that Mary, the horror writer, would have been the one to see ghosts and monsters, it was in fact Percy who witnessed doppelgangers.
Shortly before Percy drowned in a sailing accident in 1812, he confessed to Mary that he had met his doppelganger many times. These confrontations included one particularly haunting experience where he walked onto a terrace, only to be greeted by his doppelganger who asked him, “How long do you mean to be content?”
Strangely, Percy’s doppelganger was also witnessed by her close friend Jane Williams, who saw it passing her window (on a route frequently walked by the real Percy) to a dead end, but never returning. The real Percy was nowhere near.”
This is my favorite one of their stories:
“In 1906, British Parliament member Sir Gilbert Parker was attending a debate when he spotted Sir Frederick Carne Rasch, a fellow Parliament member, sitting nearby. This greatly surprised Sir Gilbert, as Sir Frederick was severely ill with influenza at the time. Still, he politely greeted Sir Frederick and told him, “I hope you are feeling better.” Carne Rasch didn’t react in any way. He just sat there with a stony, grim expression on his face.
When Sir Gilbert soon glanced at his friend again, the seat was completely empty. Bewildered, he searched for Carne Rasch in the lobby, only to find that no one had seen him pass by. When he discussed the event with fellow parliamentarians, it turned out others had seen Carne Rasch too.
When the real Carne Rasch (who had been sick in bed all along) found out about the incident, he was quite unsurprised. He had really wanted to take part in the debate so, to him, it made sense that his spirit had sneaked a peek. His family, however, was terrified and feared the doppelganger was a bad sign.
In a small way, they were right: For quite some time, Carne Rasch was annoyed by fellow Parliament members, who kept poking him with their fingers to make sure he was flesh and blood. In the end, he had to write a massively sarcastic letter to a local newspaper, apologizing that he didn’t have the good sense to die at the time of the doppelganger sighting and promising to behave better next time.”
The website Ghosts and Ghouls has some more, closer to home, stories:
“I think I was 15 or 16 when this happened. Our house was old and creepy as hell. One morning, it must have been around 6 or 7 a.m., I woke up suddenly to see my mom bent over looking at me like she was watching me sleep.
The room was very dim because it was so early, and I’m usually not a morning person so I was very groggy. She was wearing one of her school pride shirts and black sweat pants. She was barefoot with her hands on her knees and a very curious look on her face like she was examining me. I remember this vividly, but it happened so fast because as soon as I woke up, I fell back asleep.
I got up a few hours later to find my mom watching TV in the living room wearing a different outfit. I asked, ‘Why did you change?’ And she looked at me, puzzled. We went back and forth for a while because she had no idea what I was talking about. Finally, it was like a light went off in her head, and she said with a gasp, ‘Oh God Melissa that wasn’t me.’”
“This happened to me in third grade, and it scared me so much I started crying and had to go to the office to talk to the principal about it. I was in the hallway for misbehaving, and my neighbor Tad (a year younger than me) came walking out of a class to my right, passed in front of me and headed down some stairs. We said “hi” to each other. About 20 seconds later, he walked out of the same class, passed in front of me, and headed down the stairs. I just stared at him, confused and afraid, and he looked back like ‘Why are you looking at me like that?’”
Like what you read? Find more stories by Terri Reid here.